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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Best Mirror of Our Souls: Wild Mountains and What They Can Teach Us
by Gilmore, Rosaleen E., Ph.D., Prescott College, 2018, 252; 10790352
Abstract (Summary)

Mountains are filled with both mystery and grandeur. They are places where the natural world can be experienced in its most raw form. Humans have been climbing mountains for centuries, yet it is still difficult to adequately explain what draws people to the mountains. There is danger in the mountains, but there can also be rewards in the form of physical health, mental well-being, and personal growth. My climbing experience has led me to believe that these benefits are felt most when climbers approach a mountain with a sense of reverence and respect, and that the colonizing mindset of conquering a mountain or completing a tick-list is detrimental to the climber, the people that the climber interacts with, and the natural environment of the mountain. This study examines the worldviews of mountain climbers and the aspects of mountaineering that seem to enhance these worldviews. The worldviews of the mountaineers are explored in regard to both the natural environment and human society. Focus is placed on the aspects of mountaineering that seem to encourage biocentric worldviews, with the hope of being able to apply these findings to future sustainability initiatives. This study finds that mountaineers have a generally negative view of societies which put too much emphasis on material wealth, social prestige, and power structures. These materialistic tendencies of society are in direct contrast with the world of mountains. The benefits of climbing mountains are extensive, with personal and spiritual benefits being even more essential to the experience than the physical benefits. Climbers do not climb mountains for these benefits though; they climb mountains to climb. The findings of this study are discussed in terms of the future of climbing, environmental and social sustainability initiatives, and genuine learning experiences.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Thomas, Loren
Commitee: Clingan, Joan, Fleming, Richard K., Medrick, Rick
School: Prescott College
Department: Education / Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental philosophy, Environmental education, Sustainability
Keywords: Climbing, Commodification, Decolonizing, Deep ecology, Experiential, Mountains
Publication Number: 10790352
ISBN: 978-0-355-86804-3
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